WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Buy Local: Not just for produce...

Ok, so I've been agonizing over this post for a few days. How to word it. What to focus on. How vehement to get. And after spending a relaxing Tuesday to myself, I decided simple and to the point was the best way to go.

I have decided, after much deliberation (and seeing a play this weekend that put me over the edge) that I will not patronize theatres in Boston that bring in actors, designers, or directors from New York. I use patronize loosely as I rarely pay for tickets...and when I do I get the cheapest possible seat. But I do go. And I sit, and ponder, and watch. I want to see brilliant theatre. I want to see all of our companies producing solid work. But more often than not, the companies with the largest budgets and therefore the means to set the standard for Boston theatre are employing actors, designers, and directors out of New York AND the shows they are producing are mediocre at best.

The few Boston actors I see in these productions almost always far outshine the imports, if for no other reason than they are more familiar with the theater itself and able to perform better in it. But usually too because their roots are here. They've been working and building careers here for years. And they want to give us brilliant theatre as much as we want to see it. Because we're their people. The NYC actors, while always "technically" sound bring no soul, they are merely players for hire.

I bid no ill will to the New Yorkers who come through town. They are, after all, just trying to earn another paycheck and get a good solid role under their belt. Every actor's quest (or designer or director for that matter). And good for them that they are indeed working. It is a hard profession to be in no matter where you are based.

But it is my firm belief that Boston will only continue to grow as a theatre city if we support our local artists exclusively. If we cultivate our hometown talent, pay them for what they're worth, help them earn their union statuses, and keep them working on our stages for years and years. It will expand our artist pool. It will diversify it. It will help set the standards higher at all levels. And that is what we need to produce good professional theatre. Dedicated artists who are valued for the work they do and recognized for the talent they possess.

And as long as audiences, grant makers, and private donors continue to endow companies that mainly employ non-local artists our strongest members will continue to leave, our companies will continue to pass off sub-par work as great theater, and we will remain static. Boston has come a long way in 10 years, but to keep moving forward we need more support.


  1. Thank you for this! I've been thinking along similar veins a lot lately myself, and it's lovely to see it put into words so forthrightly and lovingly.

    ~ Coriana

  2. How long do I have to live in Boston to be considered local? Just wondering. I haven't lived in the same city for more than three consecutive years in...well, years. I would love to call a certain city home, but I don't feel like I'm a wholesome homegrown anywhere.

    Stage is home, I guess. Like the barre to a ballet dancer.

    I really appreciate this post. But I'm not sure where I stand on this matter. You are a gutsy lady, nonetheless.

  3. You are a local actor when:

    - you can take the T to an audition
    - you take the Red Sox schedule into account when traveling to rehearsal during the summer
    - you can name four different theatre spaces in the city
    - the reference to Stagesource doesn't throw you for a total loop
    - A class at Boston Casting or CP is a necessary evil by which to get cast in local film work

    If Boston is the place you are living, working, and auditioning then you are local. If Boston isn't your home of origin, or your forever home city, we embrace you while you are here and hope that you will decide to stay and help us grow!